He wrote a song about his being denied entrance into the country, "Boots and Sand," giving the whole affair a lightly whimsical spin. The recording, which will be offered as a bonus track at Amazon.com because Yusuf said "it didn't fit with the rest of the material for the new album," features guest vocals from Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss.
The title song on "Roadsinger" codifies his own story of a troubadour seeking enlightenment. "To Be What You Must" explores what is necessary on that road, the phrase taken from 13th century German theologian Meister Eckhart: "To be what you must, you must give up what you are."
In "World of Darkness," Yusuf sings again of his wish that humanity live in harmony instead of discord. It's one of the songs he's using in a new stage musical, "Moonshadow," that he expects to mount in London by the end of this year. It's an allegorical work about the search for spiritual light, incorporating signature songs from the Cat Stevens days and several new compositions.
"I love the music that I'm making today," he said. "I'm very, very pleased to be able to write songs and turn people's heads, remind them in a way somewhat of my previous songs and things that touched them. And touch people again."